NBE Makes Changes to PG Medical Examination Format to Ensure Minimal Travel for Students
For doctors who are on coronavirus duty, taking the practical examination for the Diplomate of National Board, a postgraduate course, is turning out to be a nightmare. With states, districts and cities moving in and out of various phases of lockdown, doctors are tense about travelling to examination centres across the country.
They are worried that they may be quarantined close to the date of the examination, or that they might test positive for the virus from travelling to or taking the examination in hotspots.
The practical examinations are for 18 out of 57 specialities and super specialities in which NBE conducts DNB courses. Though the theory examination was given in December 2019, the practical examination, due to be held in April, was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The executive director of NBE said it was necessary to hold these examinations as these specialities were feeder qualifications for the NEET SS and the Post-Doctoral Fellowship entrance test due to be held in September.
Many DNB candidates have sought a waiver of the practical examinations. However, senior DNB faculty members have said that for clinical specialities, it would be unwise to waive practical examinations. However, they agreed that it is unjust to expect candidates to travel during the pandemic for just 18 specialities.
The examinations are due to be held from 14 July to 27 August and will involve nearly 4,000 DNB candidates.
Efforts are being made to ensure that students have to travel as little as possible. The executive director said that they are in touch with all students who have got centres outside their states, because of the difficulty of interstate travel at the moment.
“When Kolkata announced a shutdown, we had to create a new centre in Guwahati for just two candidates from there and another from Manipur,” he said.
However, candidates say that most of them have not even got a centre from their zone, let alone the state. A Punjab candidate was allotted a centre in Bangalore and another from Maharashtra has got a centre in Karnataka.
NBE has adopted a new format of examination, in which external examiners will be monitoring the examination from its Delhi office. Instead of patients, there will be simulated cases such as photographs or videos of patients for Observed Structured Clinical Examination. Measures are also being taken to ensure social distancing.
Candidates are not pleased. Some of them are questioning why a centre has not been allotted in every city. The decision to consider absence from the examination as an attempt has also come in for criticism, given the high risk of contagion at this stage and the fact that the NBE rules provide only three attempts to clear the examination.